In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight. Prov.3;6 ב”ה
“Let’s make the next few minutes last forever….”
Vayera… The Test is The Answer 5778
Father open my heart. I am here with my hands open, I waver not knowing what your word will be…I hear it I see it, I ask that you cause me to feel it and to know it. You have opened my life up to experience people and places and things that I know must apply to these lessons. Give to me, if You are willing, everything You desire for Your students to take into themselves. Give me Your Spirit with a might of fervor for truth, enraptured by Your wonder- make me tremble and delight in Awe of Your word. Hineni Adonai- here I am, ready to do Your will. Let it be done.
1 Corinthians 15; 3 For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Messiah died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 that He was buried, that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures…
Hosea 6; 1“Come, let us return to the LORD. For He has torn us, but He will heal us; He has wounded us, but He will bandage us. 2 “He will revive us after two days; He will raise us up on the third day, that we may live before Him. 3“So let us know, let us press on to know the LORD. His going forth is as certain as the dawn; and He will come to us like the rain, like the spring rain watering the earth.”
Last lesson we were asked to consider Avraham, who might have thought his lifetime was winding down. Having experienced several “trials”, having been given promises by El Shaddai (God Almighty)…what a huge range of circumstances this man had lived through. Yet, the most challenging “test” was still to come. This lesson’s Parasha- Vayera begins with God “appearing” to Avraham, traditionally it is said that he is visited upon the third day after circumcising himself and his household. This is said to be the most painful day, [Ber. 34;25 Now it came about on the third day, when they were in pain…] and yet Avraham behaves with intensity to service his guests. Some teach that he is unaware the visitors are angelic messengers (at first), thus proving his devotion to any and all manner of guests who would come his way.
Hebrews 13;1 Continue in brotherly love. 2 Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have entertained angels without knowing it. 3 Remember those in prison as if you were bound with them, and those who are mistreated as if you were suffering with them.
B’reshit 18; Now the Lord appeared to him by the oaks of Mamre, while he was sitting at the tent door in the heat of the day. 2 When he lifted up his eyes and looked, behold, three men were standing opposite him; and when he saw them, he ran from the tent door to meet them and bowed himself to the earth, 3 and said, “My Lord, if now I have found favor in Your sight, please do not pass Your servant by. 4 Please let a little water be brought and wash your feet, and rest yourselves under the tree; 5 and I will bring a piece of bread, that you may refresh yourselves; after that you may go on, since you have visited your servant.” And they said, “So do, as you have said.”
Matthew 20;25…Yeshua called them aside and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their superiors exercise authority over them. 26 It shall not be this way among you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, 27and whoever wants to be first among you must be your slave— 28 just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many.”
Avraham grants us a template for the most gracious host. No matter his state or mood he RUNS to serve his guests. He offers them a humble invitation, a “little” water, a “morsel” of food…this way they won’t feel as if they are imposing. What actually takes place? An extravagant meal prepared especially for them, prepared and served by the main man. Yeshua teaches the same example- true elevation comes, true riches are realized only when we are at the service of the other.
John 13;12 When Yeshua had washed their feet and put on His outer garments, He reclined with them again and asked, “Do you know what I have done for you? 13 You call Me Teacher and Lord, and rightly so, because I am. 14 So if I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. 15 I have set you an example so that you should do as I have done for you. 16 Truly, truly, I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. 17 If you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.
Toward the end of this Parasha we hear familiar words, words with which Hashem called unto Avraham to begin his journey toward a divinely prescribed destiny: לֶךְ לְךָ Go forth (lech l’cha) from your country, and from your relatives and from your father’s house, to the land which I will show you; and I will make you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great; and so you shall be a blessing- Ber. 12;1-2.
Hebrews 11;8 By faith Abraham, when he was called, obeyed by going out to a place which he was to receive for an inheritance; and he went out (lech lecha), not knowing where he was going. 9 By faith he lived as an alien in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, fellow heirs of the same promise; 10 for he was looking for the city which has foundations, whose architect and builder is God.
These familiar words now come at the turning point in Avraham’s journey, when he is asked to part with that which he holds most dear (his theology- God who never imagined human sacrifice, his legacy- through Isaac you will become a great nation, and his precious child- son of his soulmate, son of the promise: “Take now your son, your only son, whom you love, Isaac, וְלֶךְ לְךָ and go to (v’lech l’cha) the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I will tell you.” Ber. 22;2
Hebrews 11;17 By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered (lifted) up Isaac, and he who had received the promises was offering (lifting) up his only begotten;18 to whom it was said, “IN ISAAC YOUR DESCENDANTS SHALL BE CALLED.” 19 He considered that God is able to raise even from the dead, from which he also received him back as a type.
The mission for Avraham has progressed, therefore he must progress. The first Lech Lecha is an invitation from the Creator to Avraham…to step away from everything he knew and follow Hashem. Not knowing where he was headed, not knowing what would happen, but trusting Hashem would do well with him.The last Lech Lecha is a reflection of the same but with heightened significance. Avraham Avinu is asked to part with family once more (this time his precious son), he still is not sure where Hashem will tell him to bring the “olah” (lifting up) and he still shows trust…not knowing what will happen (Yitsach asks, where is the Lamb? What will happen? Avraham responds- God will show Himself for the Lamb. In other words…I don’t know, but He does…and they walk onward together.) Somehow, the Akeida (the binding of Isaac) is meant to elevate Avraham and Yitsach as well. But how?
B’reshit 22; 4 On the third day Abraham raised his eyes and saw the place from a distance.
Until now Avraham and Hashem have had a certain theme running through their relationship. It is filled with love, and an almost “union” or partnership (leveling with one another). God seems to have a desire to “check with” Avraham before overturning the Cities of the Plain: : B’reshit 18; 17 The Lord said, “Shall I hide from Abraham what I am about to do, 18 since Abraham will surely become a great and mighty nation, and in him all the nations of the earth will be blessed? 19 For I have chosen him, so that he may command his children and his household after him to keep the way of the Lord by doing righteousness and justice, so that the Lord may bring upon Abraham what He has spoken about him.” 20 And the Lord said, “The outcry of Sodom and Gomorrah is indeed great, and their sin is exceedingly grave. 23 Abraham came near and said, “Will You indeed sweep away the righteous with the wicked? 24 Suppose there are fifty righteous within the city; will You indeed sweep it away and not spare the place for the sake of the fifty righteous who are in it? 25 חָלִילָה Far be it from You to do such a thing, to slay the righteous with the wicked, so that the righteous and the wicked are treated alike. חָלִלָה Far be it from You! Shall not the Judge of all the earth deal justly?”
The language Avraham is using is very harsh! (From the Shoresh (root) #2490 (v) חָלַל chalal – to perforate, pierce through, to lay open, to profane, to be defiled, to cast down, to destroy, to break one’s word. ) #2486 (substantival interjection) chalilah חָלִילָה – profane, to profane things!
John 8;52 “Now we know that You have a demon!” declared the Jews. “Abraham died, and so did the prophets, yet You say that anyone who keeps Your word will never taste death. 53 Are You greater than our father Abraham? He died, as did the prophets. Who do You claim to be?” 54 Yeshua answered, “If I glorify Myself, My glory means nothing. The One who glorifies Me is My Father, of whom you say ‘He is our God.’ 55 You do not know Him, but I know Him. If I said I did not know Him, I would be a liar like you. But I do know Him, and I keep His word. 56 Your father Abraham was overjoyed to see My day. He saw it and was glad.” 57 Then the Jews said to Him, “You are not yet fifty years old, and You have seen Abraham?” 58 “Truly, truly, I tell you,” Yeshua declared, “before Abraham was born, I am!”
Additionally, when Avraham is found in a “sticky situation” with Avimelech he uses the same harsh language. It is taught that he got too “preachy” with Avimelech and thus we see, the very thing in which he (albeit rightly) accuses,
he is tested.
Matthew7;2 “For in the way you judge,
you will be judged; and by your standard of measure,
it will be measured to you.
B’reshit 20; 9 Then Abimelech called Abraham and said to him, “What have you done to us? And how have I sinned against you, that you have brought on me and on my kingdom a great sin? You have done to me things that ought not to be done.” 10 And Abimelech said to Abraham, “What have you encountered, that you have done this thing?” 11 Abraham said, “Because I thought, surely there is no fear of God in this place…
B’resh1t 22;10 Abraham stretched out his hand and took the knife to slay his son. 11 But the angel of the Lord called to him from heaven and said, “Abraham, Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.” 12 He said, “Do not stretch out your hand against the lad, and do nothing to him; for now I know that you fear God…
יָרֵא Yare– Fear, reverence, AWE. When I experience something that completely nullify’s mySELF. I am drawn to know “it” to be close to “it” but the closer I become the smaller I feel. Not insignificant…just appropriately denoted. Until the only reality is this sense of Awe. Friendship is based upon doing for one another, Love is a mutual experience… יָרֵא Yare Elohim- the Fear of the Lord is something else. Apparently it wasn’t until the Akieda Avraham accomplished Yare.
Summarizing some thoughts: Here we have an appearance of the Lord on the THIRD day after the ‘ratification’ of the Covenant….Yeshua displaying the same characteristics as Avraham in that although he was the greatest of all, he came and lived to serve. He:… emptied Himself, taking the form of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to death—even death on a cross. Eph. 2; 7-8 I want us to think about what it was that Yeshua means when he makes the statement, “Avraham saw it (My day) and was glad”.
Consider the timing of Yeshua’s death at Pesach (Passover) and parasha Vayera. We have washing of feet, like Yeshua did at his seder. Hastily baked bread…: Sh’mot 12;39 They baked the dough which they had brought out of Egypt into cakes of unleavened bread. For it had not become leavened, since they were driven out of Egypt and could not delay, nor had they prepared any provisions for themselves.
B’reshit 18;6 So Abraham hurried into the tent to Sarah, and said, “Quickly, prepare three measures of fine flour, knead it and make bread cakes.” 7 Abraham also ran to the herd, and took a tender and choice calf and gave it to the servant, and he hurried to prepare it. 8 He took curds and milk and the calf which he had prepared, and placed it before them; and he was standing by them under the tree as they ate. 9 Then they said to him, “Where is Sarah your wife?” And he said, “There, in the tent.” 10 He said, “I will surely return to you at this time next year; and behold, Sarah your wife will have a son.” And Sarah was listening at the tent door, which was behind him.
(Lot, in the next chapter is also entertaining guests in Sodom, he makes for them Matzot:
3Yet he urged them strongly, so they turned aside to him and entered his house;
and he prepared a feast for them, and baked unleavened bread, and they ate.
B’reshit 19; 3)
B’reshit 18; 11Now Abraham and Sarah were old, advanced in age; Sarah was past childbearing. 12 Sarah laughed to herself, saying, “After I have become old, shall I have pleasure, my lord being old also?” 13And the LORD said to Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh, saying, ‘Shall I indeed bear, when I am so old?’ 14“Is anything too difficult פָּלָא for the LORD? At the appointed time (מֹּועֵד Moed–refers to the Feasts of the Lord) I will return to you, at this time next year, and Sarah will have a son.” 15 Sarah denied it however, saying, “I did not laugh”; for she was afraid. And He said, “No, but you did laugh.”
# (v) pala פָּלָא -to be distinguished, great or extraordinary; to be arduous, difficult; to be wonderful.
Zech. 8:6 “Thus says the LORD of hosts, ‘If it is too difficult פָּלָא in the sight of the remnant of this people in those days, will it also be too difficult פָּלָא in My sight?’ declares the LORD of hosts. 7 “Thus says the LORD of hosts, ‘Behold, I am going to save My people from the land of the east and from the land of the west; 8 and I will bring them back and they will live in the midst of Jerusalem; and they shall be My people, and I will be their God in truth and righteousness.’
# 6382 (masc.n) pele פֶּלֶא – something distinguished, wonderful, admirable, a miracle from God.
Yeshayahu 9;6 For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; and the government will rest on His shoulders; and His name will be called Wonderful פֶּלֶא Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace. 7 There will be no end to the increase of His government or of peace, On the throne of David and over his kingdom, To establish it and to uphold it with justice and righteousness From then on and forevermore.
Sarah, her womb is dead, in a sense she feels as though
(especially considering the culture of the time and way of thinking) she’s dead…
for the promised seed to fulfill God’s purposes there must be a resurrection from the dead.
Profound, and all of this is taking place around Passover.
The season of Messiah Yeshua’s crucifixion and resurrection.
- Acts 17;30 Therefore having overlooked the times of ignorance, God is now declaring to men that all people everywhere should repent, 31 because He has fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness through a Man whom He has appointed, having furnished proof to all men by raising Him from the dead.”
- B’reshit 16;2 So Sarai said to Abram, “Now behold, the Lord has prevented me from bearing children. Please go in to my maid; perhaps I will obtain children through her.”
- B’reshit 30;1Now when Rachel saw that she bore Jacob no children…and she said to Jacob, “Give me children, or else I die.”
Romans 4;18 Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations, just as he had been told, “So shall your offspring be.”Without becoming weak in faith he contemplated his own body, now as good as dead since he was about a hundred years old, and the deadness of Sarah’s womb.20 Yet he did not waver through disbelief in the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, 21being fully persuaded that God was able to do what He had promised. 22 That is why “it was credited to him as righteousness.” 23 Now the words “it was credited to him” were written not only for Abraham, 24 but also for us, to whom righteousness will be credited—for us who believe in Him who raised Yeshua our Lord from the dead. 25 He was delivered over to death for our trespasses and was raised to life for our justification.
Luke 16; 22 One day the beggar died and was carried by the angels to Abraham’s side. And the rich man also died and was buried. 23 In Hades, where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham from afar, with Lazarus by his side. 24 So he cried out, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue. For I am in agony in this fire.’ 25 But Abraham answered, ‘Child, remember that during your lifetime you received your good things, while Lazarus received bad things. But now he is comforted here, while you are left to suffer. 26 And besides all this, a great chasm has been fixed between us and you, so that even those who wish cannot cross from here to you, nor can anyone cross from there to us.’ 27 ‘Then I beg you, father,’ he said, ‘send Lazarus to my father’s house, 28 for I have five brothers. Let him warn them so they will not also end up in this place of torment.’ 29 But Abraham replied, ‘They have Moses and the prophets; let your brothers listen to them.’ 30‘No, father Abraham,’ he said, ‘but if someone is sent to them from the dead, they will repent.’ 31Then Abraham said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the prophets,
they will not be persuaded
even if someone rises from the dead.’”
[ Before using the example from the following Apographal work, I’d like to mention that it is referenced in both the Tanakh and Apostolic Scriptures saying : Behold, is it not written in the book of Yasher- Joshua 10;13/ 2 Samuel 1;18/ 2 Tim. 3;8 – http://www.sacred-texts.com/chr/apo/jasher/index.htm%5D
B’reshit 22;2 He said, “Take now your son, your only son, whom you love, Isaac, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him וְהַעֲלֵהוּ there as a burnt offering לְעֹלָה on one of the mountains of which I will tell you.” 3 So Abraham rose early in the morning and saddled his donkey, and took two of his young men with him and Isaac his son; and he split wood for the burnt offering, and arose and went to the place of which God had told him.…
#5927 (v) alah עָלָה- to increase, be made strong, to go up to lead up, to bring up, to take, to be offered.
- Ber. 13:1 So Abram went up from Egypt to the Negev, he and his wife and all that belonged to him, and Lot with him.
- Ber. 17:22 When He finished talking with him, God went up from Abraham.
#5930 (Fem.n) olah עֹלָה- what is laid on the altar, what is offered on the altar, offering.
Yirmeyahu 19; 3…“Behold I am about to bring a calamity upon this place, at which the ears of everyone that hears of it will tingle. 4 “Because they have forsaken Me and have made this an alien place and have burned sacrifices in it to other gods, that neither they nor their forefathers nor the kings of Judah had ever known, and because they have filled this place with the blood of the innocent 5 and have built the high places of Baal to burn their sons in the fire as burnt offerings to Baal, a thing which I never commanded or spoke of, nor did it ever enter My mind.
Yasher 12; 22 And the king’s servants took Abram and his brother, and they stripped them of all their clothes excepting their lower garments which were upon them. 23 And they bound their hands and feet with linen cords, and the servants of the king lifted them up and cast them both into the furnace. 24 And the Lord loved Abram and he had compassion over him, and the Lord came down and delivered Abram from the fire and he was not burned. 25 But all the cords with which they bound him were burned, while Abram remained and walked about in the fire… 27 And Abram walked in the midst of the fire three days and three nights, and all the servants of the king saw him walking in the fire, and they came and told the king, saying, Behold we have seen Abram walking about in the midst of the fire, and even the lower garments which are upon him are not burned, but the cord with which he was bound is burned...29 And the king ordered Abram to be taken out from the fire; and his servants approached to take him out and they could not, for the fire was round about and the flame ascending toward them from the furnace…32 And when the king saw that his servants could not approach the fire lest they should be burned, the king called to Abram, O servant of the God who is in heaven, go forth from amidst the fire and come hither before me; and Abram hearkened to the voice of the king, and he went forth from the fire and came and stood before the king… 34 And the king said to Abram, How is it that thou wast not burned in the fire? 35 And Abram said to the king, The God of heaven and earth in whom I trust and who has all in his power, he delivered me from the fire into which thou didst cast me.37… And the king, princes, and inhabitants of the land, seeing that Abram was delivered from the fire, they came and bowed down to Abram. 38 And Abram said to them, Do not bow down to me, but bow down to the God of the world who made you, and serve him, and go in his ways for it is he who delivered me from out of this fire, and it is he who created the souls and spirits of all men, and formed man in his mother’s womb, and brought him forth into the world, and it is he who will deliver those who trust in him from all pain. 39 And this thing seemed very wonderful in the eyes of the king and princes, that Abram was saved from the fire and that Haran was burned; and the king gave Abram many presents and he gave him his two head servants from the king’s house; the name of one was Oni and the name of the other was Eliezer.40 And all the kings, princes and servants gave Abram many gifts of silver and gold and pearl, and the king and his princes sent him away, and he went in peace. 41 And Abram went forth from the king in peace, and many of the king’s servants followed him, and about three hundred men joined him. 42 And Abram returned on that day and went to his father’s house, he and the men that followed him, and Abram served the Lord his God all the days of his life, and he walked in his ways and followed his law.
Looking at the Akieda is one of the most difficult tasks of any honest reader. Noting Abraham’s apparent history in Ur Chasdim may give us some background with which to relate what this man had been through to what he was about to be asked to do. Avraham, having been delivered by Hashem before has the faith to know God can save Yitsach as well. I believe what Avraham “saw” of Yeshua’s “Day” directly related to that extraordinary day… when the unfathomable was asked of the Father and Son. I believe what Avraham “saw” was the relation to what he was experiencing with Yitsach on Mt. Moriah and the future Messiah of the Great Nation he would father. I also believe he trusted in the resurrection, that Yitsach (the promised seed and Son of the Promise) could be raised up by Hashem, and that too was not “too wonderful” for Him.
Why didn’t Avraham respond to God (as he did interceding with Sodom and Gomorrah) when he was told to offer Yitsach? Why not ask some questions?
When God enters the scene (asking something of us), how are we meant to respond? If God asks you to do something “unethical” then are we supposed to do it?
Why do we worship God? We worship God because He is love and life and ethics…how are we meant to understand the Akeida?
How are we meant to understand Avraham’s response to God? Was he supposed to object?
What is the worst that could happen to you if you object? You’re struck down and thrown in hell but then, you stood up and said no and are a hero of sorts…for morality, right?
But is what God is asking Avraham to do- murder? Does God even ask Avraham to kill his son? (kill, slay, cut, slaughter… none of these are ever mentioned.)
The Hebrew could say, lift up Yitsach as a lifting up. Olah-lifting up, offering.(v’ha’alehu..l’olah)
The Hebrew term kach na (Take now) is interesting since na is “I pray you.” As if a friend speaks to another friend and says, “Take, please, your son.” If Isaac is a picture of the Promised Seed, this is interesting: John 3;12 If I have told you about earthly things and you do not believe, how will you believe if I tell you about heavenly things? 13 No one has ascended into heaven except the One who descended from heaven—the Son of Man.14 Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, 15 that everyone who believes in Him may have eternal life.
Avraham is referred to by Yitsach only as “my father”, Yitsach is referred by Avraham only as “my son”. Fourteen times father, or son is mentioned in this chapter (Ber.22).
This is THE relationship the text wants to focus us on…
Going into this….they walk on together… once Yitsach asks the question “the offering?” They still walk in the same way together….this is amazing.
And He withdrew about a stone’s throw beyond them, where He knelt down and prayed,“Father, if You are willing, take this cup from Me. Yet not My will, but Yours be done.” Then an angel from heaven appeared to Him and strengthened Him.
Luke 22; 41-43
There are two words for “where” in Hebrew, one- איפה is always locative. Where is something located.
There is another “Where?” איה Ayeh- What is really being asked by this Hebrew word?
#335 (interrogative adverb) ahy אַי – who?, whence? there is not present, is there not present? where is? why?
- Ber 3:9 Then the LORD God called to the man, and said to him, “Where are you?”
Did God not know where the man was located, or is He asking something else?
You and I had a ‘date’, we walked together in the cool of the day…why weren’t you there with me?
- Ber 4:9 Then the LORD said to Cain, “Where is Abel your brother?” And he said, “I do not know. Am I my brother’s keeper?”
Did God not know where Chevel is located, or is He asking something else?
I warned you about overcoming your desire, about raising yourself to realize that your heart toward your brother could be redeemed, I gave him to be a part of you…why haven’t you arrived at where you are supposed to be?
- Ber 16:8 He said, “Hagar, Sarai’s maid, where have you come from and where are you going?” And she said, “I am fleeing from the presence of my mistress Sarai.”
Does this Divine messenger not know where Hagar has traveled from, or is He asking something else?
You came up out of Egypt to join yourself to my chosen nation, your agreement with your mistress was that you would give birth to a nation through her husband, now where are you headed since you are not where you are supposed to be?
- Ber 18:9 Then they said to him, “Where is Sarah your wife?” And he said, “There, in the tent.”
Does the angelic visitor not know where Avraham’s wife is at, or is he asking something else?
Where is her heart and her hope, why is she doubting the impossible can be? Where is the faith that is supposed to be there, where is Sarah spiritually?
- Shem 2:20 He said to his daughters, “Where is he then? Why is it that you have left the man behind? Invite him to have something to eat.”
Does Yitro really want to know where Moshe is located or is he asking something else?
This man saved your lives, why isn’t he here? He should be here with us reaping some reward, why isn’t he where he should be?
# 346 (interrogative adverb) ahyeh אַיֵּה – where?
- Ber. 19:5 and they called to Lot and said to him, “Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us that we may have relations with them.”
Do the men of Sodom not know that the angel’s are inside Lot’s house, or are they asking something else?
We know the men are in there, we saw them go inside, why are you protecting them? They should be out here with us.
- Ber. 38:21 He asked the men of her place, saying, “Where is the temple prostitute who was by the road at Enaim?” But they said, “There has been no temple prostitute here.”
This woman was there and now she is not, she is supposed to be there…we had arranged to meet there again, she’s not where she should be.
- Ber. 22:7 Isaac spoke to Abraham his father and said, “My father!” And he said, “Here I am, my son.” And he said, “Behold, the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?”
Is Yitsach asking about a lamb they forgot, where is the lamb located…
where is the lamb? Or is he asking something else.
I see the fire, and the wood…the lamb is supposed to be here but it’s not. Who is the lamb? Am I the lamb?
I am the lamb. And the two walked on together….
This is the only conversation that these two men have together
(documented in the Torah).
Where have you gone- Why aren’t you here- ahyeh…The greatness of Avraham is expressed by this section of text which is in Chiastic structure. The Divine Word’s structure itself will point us to the central, throbbing, point…
There are three Hineini’s in this chapter.הִנֶנִי Hinei– here I am, I am here…this is not locative either, it is an expression of readiness to comply, to serve, to be present in totality and prepared to act.
“Abraham!” And he said, “הִנֶנִי Here I am.” (v2) – Avraham is present and prepared to be faithful to Hashem, whatever he may be asked to do.
Yitsach spoke to Abraham his father and said, “My father!” And he said, “ הִנֶנִי Here I am, my son.” (v7) – Avraham is present and prepared to be faithful to his role as father to Yitsach, he doesn’t hide making small talk, he doesn’t change the subject, he doesn’t make explanations or excuses…he is present as Father to his son and he answer’s truthfully- I don’t know what will happen but I know that God will provide.
“…the angel of the LORD called to him from heaven and said, “Abraham, Abraham!” And he said, “הִנֶנִי Here I am.” He said, “Do not stretch out your hand…(v11-12)- Avraham is still present and faithful. In the same way he responds to God before he is asked this thing, he responds in the midst of the test. Faithful to both “loving Hashem your God with all your heart” and being there for his son, in it together with the “Other” in his life.
Ahyeh אַיֵּה – where? Where have you gone- Why aren’t you here- if this is a glimpse into the depths of the question Yitsach ask’s his father, the center of the chiasm and Hineni to Yitsach (my son) shows us that Avraham was indeed present, and so was the Lord, who provided Himself the Lamb. (Avraham spoke of the Lamb, but it was a ram that showed up that day on Moriah. The Lamb of God was still to come, this I do believe Avraham indeed saw.
Yireh- ra’ah seeing (the place from afar) . Be strong when you are asked the unthinkable,
see with the heart of Hashem the outcome from afar.
Thinking we were coming toward the end, when really a miracle was at hand.
“Camp- Lifeguard owns the pool, He decides when you can get into the pool. He blows the whistle once everyone gets into the pool, when he blows the whistle a second time everybody gets out of the pool. He blows the whistle once and everyone’s splashing and playing, then he blows the whistle a second time. Has he done anything unjust? Kids might not like getting out of the pool, but those are the rules. In a way, from Isaac’s perspective the pool is the pool of life and the lifeguard is G-d. And G-d says it’s My pool. The pool is something called life, and I let you come in the pool. But here’s the rules; when I blow the whistle once you get to come in the pool- life, but the rule is that I always blow the whistle a second time and that’s called death. And when I blow the whistle a second time, everybody out of the pool. You don’t like it, you’re attached to the pool and you like swimming, that’s true, but these are the rules of the pool and it’s My pool. The lifeguard is not a murderer, he’s not unjust, that’s the way it works. Isaac sees that, and somehow this allows him to be willing to sacrifice. This illustration might explains why the Akieda is not murder. This is why G-d has the right. The same reason G-d has the right to kill anyone, G-d has the right to decide the time is up for Isaac. Isaac recognizes that, is able to look at life through the eye of Yare- reverence of Hashem, when His morality becomes my morality. And I trust Him. Isaac is able to see things through the eye of laughter, to laugh at himself and to be able to give himself over.” -adapted from Rabbi David Fohrman on the Akeida
This might satisfy some of the questions we might have in part, but why did God have to test??
John 8; 39 They answered and said to Him, “Abraham is our father.” Yeshua said to them, “If you are Abraham’s children, do the deeds of Abraham. 40 But as it is, you are seeking to kill Me, a man who has told you the truth, which I heard from God; this Abraham did not do.
#5264 (v) nasas נָסַס – to lift up, exalt.
- Tehillim 60:4 You have given a banner (נֵס nes) to those who fear You, that it may be displayed נָסַס because of the truth. Selah.
- Zechariah 9:16 And the LORD their God will save them in that day as the flock of His people; For they are as the stones of a crown, sparkling נָסַס in His land.
#5251 (masc.n) nes נֵס- (miracle) thing lifted up, a token to be seen from far away, banner, standard, flag, metaphorically- a sign by which anyone is warned.
– Sh’mot 17:13 So Joshua overwhelmed Amalek and his people with the edge of the sword. 14
Then the LORD said to Moses, “Write this in a book as a memorial and recite it to Joshua, that I will utterly blot out the memory of Amalek from under heaven.” 15 Moses built an altar and named it The LORD is My Banner; 16 and he said, “ The LORD has sworn; the LORD will have war against Amalek from generation to generation.”
#5254 (v) nasah נָסָה- to try or prove, to tempt, make a trial, to venture,
- (1st occurrence) B’reshit 22:1 Now it came about after these things, that God tested Abraham, and said to him, “Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.”
- Devarim 4;34 “Or has a god tried to go to take for himself a nation from within another nation by trials, by signs and wonders and by war and by a mighty hand and by an outstretched arm and by great terrors, as the LORD your God did for you in Egypt before your eyes?
Is this a test of Love or a test of Fear??
“It came to pass after these things that God tested Abraham.” The idea of testing is not to suggest God was tempting him. The idea is not to bring about a failure but to certify ability and resistance to failure. This was to bring Abraham to the place God always intended him to be. It was not to bring about Isaac’s death but Abraham’s death to self. The idea of the “test” was not to destroy Abraham but elevate him to where he was to be. In order to attain this status, Abraham had to rise above the circumstances. He had to tested and proven to establish him as a “banner.”
“Land of Moriah” is associated with “land of teaching” Moreh/morah is word for teacher.
What is a Test –
A test is forcing the student to take all the stuff he knows and synthesize it, make something new out of it, something that he didn’t even know possible, a test takes raw material of what you are and forces you to build something that you never thought you could be out of that which is. If you are an omniscient Teacher, why would you give a test? If You already know the answer why would You give a test? Ramban says the answer is that the test isn’t for the teacher, the test is for the student. Not just for the student to know what he already knows but for the student to know what he can make out of what he is. He is something in potential, he can grow into something more than that.
He says Abraham had achieved a certain level in his relationship with God, he was now subject to a test. The purpose of the test was that he should take everything that he is in personality and use all of that as building blocks to synthesize that into something more that he could not even imagine that he could become in his relationship with God. That is what the test is all about. To understand the Akeidah you need to understand what is meant by a test. A test is where you take raw material and you fashion it into something new. And if the raw material is Abraham’s personality and his relationship with G-d, that needs to be fashioned into something new, synthesized into something new through this test.
What is a Miracle?
A miracle is revelation of hidden potentiality into actuality (something hidden, that now you see it)!
With Sodom and Gommorah it seems like God is giving Avraham an opening, if He’s asking my opinion here it is
God leaves an opening for his intercession. God listens and responds when Avraham advocates for his son Ishmael:
- B’reshit 17;17 Then Abraham fell on his face and laughed, and said in his heart, “Will a child be born to a man one hundred years old? And will Sarah, who is ninety years old, bear a child?” 18 And Abraham said to God, “Oh that Ishmael might live before You!” 19 But God said, “No, but Sarah your wife will bear you a son, and you shall call his name Isaac; and I will establish My covenant with him for an everlasting covenant for his descendants after him. 20“As for Ishmael, I have heard you; behold, I will bless him, and will make him fruitful and will multiply him exceedingly. He shall become the father of twelve princes, and I will make him a great nation. 21“But My covenant I will establish with Isaac…
With the Akeida…there’s no reason, no opening, it’s a request. A command.
NOW I know that you fear God- what about previously? Previously Avraham was relating to God as a “peer” with love, not Yare. Where are you? Throughout B’reshit God asks rhetorical questions, (Where are you Adam? Where is your brother Chevel?) This is not about location but WHERE IS YOUR INTENTION, where are you in faith? Where are you supposed to be with Me? This time, with Avraham…its the right answer …. HINEINI. When we hear the command and respond, acting in obedience even though we may not have it “figured out”, even though we may never reach “perfection”…we are taking our father Avraham’s example as sons and daughters of the Kingdom.
Matthew 7; 22 Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ 23 Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you workers of lawlessness (Torahlessness).’24Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them is like a wise man who built his house on the rock.
I pray that we will be equipped to learn and follow the heart of God and conform our own will (which came into the ‘picture’ by taking of the mixed, boundary-less fruit) into that of Hashem. Let us hear His words and not follow after what we have determined is “good”. Let us be intently looking into the Word, seeing what HASHEM HAS ACTU ALLY SAID, lest we hear “do away with” when He really just said, “fulfill”. Lest we hear, “abolish” when He really just said, “make replete with meaning”. Lift him up- How much are you willing to do for me…. Even if He asks of us that which we cannot comprehend, let us be willing to take the walk up the mountain believing that a miracle is at hand.
Daniel 3; 17 “If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the furnace of blazing fire; and He will deliver us out of your hand, O king. 18 “But even if He does not…
That which we are willing to do Hashem sees and counts as if you had done it, like Avraham and Yitsach.
May Hashem make us aware of what He is trying to show and tell us through NOT giving us what we don’t have. When we are asking “why things are like this in our lives?” May we remember Your love and have faith that through everything You are responding: this is how I want to show you. This is why I have not given you what you asked on a silver platter…so that we may learn how pass tests knowing You are allowing us to partner with You in making ourselves into what we never knew we could become! May we each abide in Your love and LEARN the Awe of You that will allow us to truly see Your will and hear accurately Your prompting in our circumstances.
Another fascinating example of Inter-textuality from Vayera related to the Akeida:
Resources: Much of this entry was learned from Rabbi Ari Kahn, Rabbi Shlomo Katz, Bill Cloud, and Rabbi David Fohrman. See Homepage on this Blog and My Resources entry for a complete list.
Mirjam- you are missed so much. Wish I could have shared this year’s turkey with you. You would have loved it.
Your memory IS a blessing.